Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, under their three groupings; IBUKA (the umbrella body of genocide survivors’ association), the Student Survivors’ association (AERG) and AVEGA, the Genocide widows group, have expressed bitter disappointment over two letters written by the Human Rights Watch and a group of scholars.
The letters call upon the ICTR to indict and try soldiers of the Rwanda Patriotic Army for alleged war crimes before the UN court concludes its activities in 2010.
One of the letters dated June 1, was addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown by over 40 scholars.
In a five-page response, the survivors’ associations point out that the scholars were twisting facts in trying to equate alleged crimes by RPF troops with the Genocide, ignoring circumstances of the 1994 events.
“The letter says that Rwanda has not prosecuted RPF soldiers, yet the fact is that over 46 trials of soldiers who committed crimes in 1994 have already taken place,” states part of the survivors’ response.
It adds that whilst there can hardly ever be a justification for the killing of civilians, the tragic history of warfare early in the 20th century and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq shows that this will always happen, odious and unfortunate as it is. Their response also looks into Human Rights Watch’s earlier similar allegations.
“We are troubled by the selectivity of both Human Rights Watch and its supporters regarding the legal treatment of the events revolving around the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.”
The groups slam the scholars and HRW for being in bed with the genocidaires living in exile who campaign that crimes committed by RPF soldiers in the war to stop the 1994 Genocide was in effect a reverse genocide.
“Academicians and Human Rights activists are, in effect, ignoring this travesty of the truth and indirectly supporting the efforts of the revisionists and genocidaires, reads the statement.
“Indeed, the transfer of RPF soldiers to the ICTR would be the ultimate diplomatic and moral coup for the historical revisionists and genocide deniers.”
Ignoring circumstances of 1994 events
The survivors associations note that once events are removed from their historical context, they cannot be understood or explained.
They acknowledge that some RPF soldiers – errant elements – committed crimes against humanitarian law, but note that every objective account of 1994 war invariably makes two observations – the RPF was a remarkably disciplined fighting force given the circumstances and, as an organization, never sanctioned either revenge killings or other reprisals against the general population.
Also noted is that some of the scholars who signed the letter calling for the prosecutions of RPA soldiers by the ICTR are known supporters of the genocidaires.
Stressing what they refer to as a racially tainted selectivity, the trio, question HRW and the scholars’ motives. Despite claims by the scholars and human rights activists, several trials of former RPA soldiers, most of who committed war crimes in revenge because of their relatives died in the Genocide have been tried and convicted.
The most recent was the trial that involved four officers, two of them senior officer in the Rwanda Defence Forces who were implicated in the killing of clergymen in Kabgayi, Southern Province, two of them were convicted and sentenced, while the other two were acquitted after having been proven innocent before the courts.